Steelers Poach Playmaking Starter From Rival: Report

Mike Tomlin

Getty The Steelers have signed veteran safety Damontae Kazee.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed a key starter away from one of their historic rivals.

Free agent safety Damontae Kazee has signed with the Steelers, per his agent, Ron Butler. Kazee started 15 of his 17 games for the Dallas Cowboys last season after signing with the team last offseason.

The news was previously reported by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, noting that Kazee has signed a one-year deal with Pittsburgh.

“Free agent safety Damontae Kazee is signing a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers, per source,” said Fowler on Saturday, April 30. “Five-year veteran has 12 career interceptions.”

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Kazee Will Join Crowded Steelers Defensive Backfield

The 28-year-old Kazee previously co-led the NFL in interceptions (seven) during the 2018 season while with the Atlanta Falcons. According to Pro Football Focus, Kazee posted a 60.9 defensive grade last season while seeing the vast majority of his playing time at free safety. Among safeties with at least 100 defensive snaps, Kazee ranked 64th among all safeties.

While the numbers aren’t exactly impressive, Kazee possesses experience — he has served as a regular starter since the 2018 season — and he has started at both safety positions, having played the strong safety position with the Falcons in 2018.

The Steelers did not draft a single safety during the 2022 NFL draft. Kazee will join a crowded safety rotation in Pittsburgh with Minkah Fitzpatrick, Karl Joseph and Terrell Edmunds. Fitzpatrick projects as the starting free safety while Edmunds projects as the starting strong safety entering the 2022 season.

Rudolph ‘Likely to Be Traded,’ Says Analyst

As the Steelers celebrate their first-round draft pick of quarterback Kenny Pickett, there may a veteran who isn’t celebrating so much.

According to Gerry Dulac of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Mason Rudolph is “likely to be traded” before the season starts rather than be the starter.

Dulac attributes the selection of Pickett and the signing of Mitch Trubisky as reasons why the Steelers will move on from Rudolph, who enters the offseason as Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback.

“Regardless what role Pickett will eventually assume in the offense, the reality is his arrival puts Trubisky in an awkward, tenuous position,” explained Dulac on Sunday, May 1. “Six weeks ago, Trubisky’s signing in free agency was met with much hope and anticipation — a former No. 2 overall pick looking to pull a Ryan Tannehill-like resurrection with the Steelers. Now, after one bad game, maybe even just one interception, all he will hear is the fans crying for Pickett.

The same is true for Rudolph, though he is likely to be traded before the season rather than be the starter.”

Rudolph is the only quarterback on the Steelers’ roster who was on the team prior to this offseason. Pittsburgh also used a seventh-round draft selection on South Dakota State quarterback Chris Oladokun.

Steelers executive Kevin Colbert mentioned back in February that Rudolph would enter the offseason as the starter.

Via Brooke Pryor of ESPN:

“If we started a season today, Mason would be our starter,” said Colbert. “He’s 5-4-1 as a starter. We’re excited to see what’s next for Mason.”

Rudolph served as Pittsburgh’s starter during the 2019 season, starting eight games for the injured Ben Roethlisberger. However, he was also benched during that season in favor of undrafted free agent Devlin Hodges.

If Rudolph proves to be behind Trubisky and Pickett in the quarterback pecking order during training camp, one can assume the Steelers will move on from the 26-year-old quarterback and instead keep Oladokun as a third-string or practice squad quarterback.

It’s safe to say that Rudolph is on the hot seat entering the 2022 season.


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